Once I saw the trailer for ‘Coffee & Kareem,’ I was hooked. I couldn’t wait to view it. The trailer pits Ed Helms, from ‘The Office,’ ‘The Hangover,’ and ‘Tag’ against a child, and the kid is winning?!? Sounds good to me!
Then finding out Taraji P. Henson was involved, a woman who’s been lighting up Hollywood since 1997 in films such as ‘Hidden Figures’ and ‘The Best of Enemies,’ sealed the deal. Helms, who’s best playing absurdly zany characters, is police officer, James Coffee, who’s dating Vanessa (Henson). If you’re curious about the title, the ‘Kareem’ to his Coffee comes into play because Kareem is Vanessa’s son. He’s a smart-ass twelve-year-old who often gets himself into trouble, which is one, but not the only, reason he disapproves of a man being around to tell him what to do. Kareem hates Coffee with a passion because Coffee’s not only a cop, but he’s also white. Kareem has no reason to trust the police, especially if they’re a white man.
After accidentally seeing him and his mother having sex, he resents Coffee more than ever. Now, he’ll do anything to get Vanessa to break up with him, even resorting to things such as ending the man’s life if possible. The potty-mouthed Kareem is played by Terrence Little Gardenhigh, who adequately handled everything the script threw at him. I feel it appropriate to mention that some of his lines were so blue he could rival an adult Richard Pryor or Eddie Murphy at their most raunchy, so take heed of the TV-MA rating.
Kareem is being driven by Coffee when he asks him to stop for an errand he needs to run.
Little does Coffee know, but the youngster is planning his demise. Unable to take the relationship anymore, Kareem has resorted to hiring some thugs to ‘get rid’ of this Coffee problem once and for all. While doing so, he stumbles upon some criminals who are executing a different police officer. Kareem witnesses the murder and is now on the run. Let the chase begin!
While running, Kareem drops his phone, which, if found, would give away who he is and where he lives. He’s now worried that if the felons get ahold of it, they’ll go after him and his mom, so he, having nowhere else to turn, goes to Coffee and tells him what he saw. All of this leads to Coffee discovering sinister things going on in his department.
My overall impression is that there’s some good in this little comedy, but, unfortunately, the principal storyline and its trite dialogue, it leans more toward the bad. Being entirely predictable is the biggest reason you’ll feel it won’t satisfy your comedic needs. When you can see a joke coming a mile away, it tends to lessen the impact. This happens far too often. It’s also frustrating to an audience when apathetic scriptwriting stares you straight in the face. The script also had too many moments of unbelievability that frustrated more than it amused.
On the other hand, if one had to pick what worked best, I’d say it was the ribbing back and forth between Helms and Gardenhigh. Their conversation about sex at the strip club was rather funny. It’s important to mention that not all of their scenes went off without a hitch, but they’re somewhat made up for when Henson’s time on screen is increased. Everything about her character and her performance is delightful. However, she was so together and her personality so strong that you would never believe she’d be with the bumbling fool they’ve paired her with here.
Sadly, the movie disappointed more than pleased, but if you like Henson and there’s nothing else on, ‘Coffee & Kareem’ is one to throw a bone to starting this weekend on Netflix.
Coffee & Kareem
Director: Michael Dowse
Writer: Shane Mack
Stars: Betty Gilpin, Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Little Gardenhigh, Ed Helms and David Alan Grier
Running Time: 1h 51m
Genres: Comedy, Action